Tuesday, August 22, 2017

KGI Compares Apple and Qualcomm 3D Camera Technologies

Macrumors and IF News quote KGI securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo saying that Apple 3D camera technology is 1.5-2 years ahead of Qualcomm one. Apple is expected to use 3D frontside camera in one of its upcoming iPhones for face recognition and user interface.

"According to Kuo, Qualcomm is dealing with immature algorithms and an unfavorable hardware reference design for smartphones due to form factor design and thermal issues. Qualcomm may also be impacted by Apple's choice of suppliers. Many key component suppliers have already allocated resources to Apple, so Qualcomm has to find different suppliers in order to obtain sufficient resources."

So far, only Xiaomi 2018 flagship phone is expected to use Qualcomm 3D solution with volumes less than 10M units, according to Kuo. Even this might be cancelled, depending on the new iPhone success.


  1. the Apple solution is either Primesense structured light adapted to a more mobile platform, or something new that Primesense team built. Primesense at time of acquisition built a pretty darn good depth sensor, definitely the best in the market at the time, comparable to today's Canesta/Kinect2 ToF which had the benefit of much MSFT investment dollars and more time for refinement.

    With all due respect to QCOM, they have the following catch up homework:
    1) how to do structured patterned light, stable over a sensible temp range, with decent efficiency, manufacturable, and cost effective
    2) depth extraction. All the pre and post processing necessary to fill holes, good edges, etc...
    3) then the big elephant in the room... the application. Apple has the huge and possibly all critical advantage of being the sensor dev as well as the app/UX/experience dev. Integrating and tweaking app and sensor all together with Apple's budget and design sensibilities makes it one huge challenge for QCOM to catch up.

    The app and UX will be more critical and differentiating than the underlying hardware, we will come to see.

  2. Macrumors also says this about Ming-Chi Kuo: https://www.macrumors.com/roundup/ming-chi-kuo/

    Both here at ISW and at https://www.qualcomm.com/news/onq/2017/08/15/qualcomm-pioneers-new-active-depth-sensing-module it says Qualcomm has new Hardware, for the past 6 months there's been talk about ARM's advancement in 3D/VR with AR coming, and there's Samsung's partnership with Qualcomm for the rumored 845 in the (unrumored) Galaxy S9 scheduled for early next year.

    Leaked image of Apple's Module: http://wccftech.com/iphone-3d-sensing-module-leaked/ .

    Is Kuo's source 6-8 months out of date?


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